The Ford Mustang is all-new for 2015, and eight months in, it’s already on the verge of beating its 2014 total sales numbers. With 76,772 cars sold so far this year, it’s also proving to be a lot more popular than its arch-rival, the Chevrolet Camaro – to the tune of over 25,000 cars. But that could change very soon, because not only is the Camaro all-new for 2016, Chevy has just released pricing for its latest ponycar, and it could be giving its rival a run for its money sooner rather than later.
That said, there are some interesting developments in the Camaro lineup that stand to make things interesting. Unlike the outgoing car with its three trim levels, the LS, LT, and SS, the new Camaro has a simplified lineup, with just LT and SS models despite now having a third engine option available: A turbocharged inline-four. While the ’15 Mustang starts at $23,800, and isn’t likely to see a substantial price jump, the new Camaro starts at $26,695 for the base-model 1LT coupe – a near $3,000 jump from the current buy-in (though the new LT base offers more than the outgoing LS model), with a $995 destination charge included.
At the other end of the spectrum, the SS starts at $37,295, or a $1,000 premium over a Mustang GT fastback. For the money however, you get a revised front fascia, bigger brakes and tires, limited slip differential, and of course, a 455 horsepower 6.2 liter V8. While the 2SS is the fastest Camaro to ever wear the venerable “SS” badge, and is the range-topper for now, photographers recently spied a supercharged ZL1 being put through its paces on public roads. With the current ZL1 starting at over $55,000 expect the next-gen model (to be unveiled next winter at the Detroit Auto Show) to fetch a premium over even the most kitted-out SS cars.
The Camaro may be priced slightly above its rival from Dearborn, but with good cause. It may look pretty close to the outgoing model, but Chevy’s new ponycar is improved in just about every way imaginable. On top of the big V8 and the 335 horsepower 3.6 liter V6, Chevy has dropped its first four-banger into the Camaro since the ’80s, to better compete with Ford’s 2.3 liter turbocharged EcoBoost inline-four. And unlike the wheezy “Iron Duke” mill from way back then, this 2.0 liter turbocharged four is good for 275 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. Each engine can be mated to the six-speed manual, or a new eight-speed automatic transmission, to keep fuel economy respectable.
Powertrains aside, the car is over 200 pounds lighter than the outgoing model thanks to a healthy diet of aluminum. And on the inside, the new car is leagues above the outgoing model’s hard-touch plastics and acres of shiny surfaces. The hackneyed retro-futurism of the old car is replaced with premium feeling materials and a design that makes the car feel more like a younger brother to the Corvette than a rehash of decades-old designs. The only thing retro about the new car is the old-school customizability of the new cars straight from the dealerships. Buyers can choose from 10 exterior colors, five interior colors, ground effects, new wheel choices, and graphics on the outside, with Apple CarPlay, OnStar 4G LTE with Wi-Fi hotspot, a driver mode selector, and a host of other electronic goodies on the inside.
It may take a few months to be able to tell the new Camaro from the old one, but the improvements are many, and they add up to a car that’s fundamentally better than the outgoing model. And regardless of the slight price gap between the two, the combination of power and value in the 2016 Camaro may well win uncommitted muscle car shoppers away from the mighty Mustang. On paper, the car looks like quite the contender. We’ll just have to wait a few more months and see if buyers agree.
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